Khalid Samad freed of sedition charge

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court today freed Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad of the sedition charge in questioning the status of the Selangor sultan and the state Islamic council four years ago.

Judge Rohatul Akmar Abdullah ruled that the prosecution, represented by deputy public prosecutor Othman Abdullah, had failed to prove the charge against Khalid under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act.

“His statement on reviewing Mais’ powers under the state enactment was merely a suggestion by the accused as the Shah Alam MP, to improve the religious council,” she said, referring to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council.

She also said making such suggestions, as Khalid had done, was allowed under the Sedition Act.

“The court must distinguish between what is political speech and what is not, and cannot just rely on statements from witnesses,” Rohatul said.

According to the charge sheet, Khalid had, among others, requested that the Selangor government carry out research to amend an enactment allowing Mais to directly control the state’s religious authorities.

He also allegedly said that as Mais was seen to be closely associated with the sultan of Selangor, its actions damaged the image of the royalty.

He was also alleged to have questioned Mais’ failure to return Malay-language Bibles to the Bible Society of Malaysia despite Gani Patail, the attorney-general at the time, ordering it to do so.

Khalid claimed trial to the charge in August 2014.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, the three-term MP said he was relieved by the decision to acquit him.

“I had no intention of making any seditious statement at that time. I was only proposing a review of the state Islamic enactment so that Mais’ actions would not affect the image of the Selangor ruler,” he said.

His lawyer Hanipa Maidin said he hoped the prosecution would not appeal against Khalid’s acquittal.

“I hope he will be the last ‘victim’ under the Sedition Act,” he said, adding that there should not be any more sedition prosecutions.